As the first of a new generation of Alzheimer’s disease drugs hit the market, some researchers are troubled by the lack of clinical data available on the effectiveness of these drugs in Black people.

Even though Black adults are nearly twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as white adults, they are much less likely to be included in research, according to Carey Gleason, an associate professor of medicine and geriatrics researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who has a doctorate in clinical neuropsychology. This means new Alzheimer’s drugs are based largely on clinical data from a population that is white, highly educated and at high-risk because of family history, she said.

“The new drugs aimed at Alzheimer’s like lecanemab target removing amyloid (plaques in the brain that are a marker of the disease) but most of the data we have about amyloid is based on white populations,” Gleason said. “We don’t know if the amyloid association with disease symptoms will hold for the Black population.”

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